• Erika

My Secret Superpower - Type 1 Diabetes

Updated: Feb 26, 2020

The years of symptoms leading up to my diagnosis. Unquenchable thirst and constant peeing. Strange rashes that wouldn't heal. The extreme weight loss and muscle breakdown as my body slowly stopped producing the insulin needed to utilise all that glucose circling in my bloodstream. And in the weeks and months following that day when an insulin pen and glucose meter became my constant companions. When the nerves in my feet were so used to the syrup my blood had become, they couldn't cope with their new 'low sugar' environment. Months of burning pain as they reacted unkindly. Followed by a tingling and numbness that I was told would never get any better.

I wouldn't hope to change any of it. I wouldn't ask to be 'normal' again. Or even for the nerve damage to magically disappear. Every part of this journey has served me in some way. In only 5 years, Type 1 diabetes has given me more than I could have ever imagined.

The blessing of understanding how my body actually works. Finally realising that what I eat has such a huge impact on my health. Statistics say that on average, the life span for a type 1 diabetic is 12 years less than the general population. I honestly think that being diagnosed with this illness/disease/disorder, whatever you want to call it, has probably increased my life span. Or at least improved my health span. If it weren't for type 1 diabetes I would most likely still be eating crap and well along the path to a heart attack, cancer or dementia.

The curse part has become so much easier to manage by following a low carb diet. We type 1 diabetics need to inject insulin every time we eat to account for the glucose metabolised. Insulin either allows you to use that glucose now as energy, or stores it in your fat cells for later. The main source of glucose is carbohydrates. So first we have to calculate how many carbs there are in our meal, then divide that by our personal ratio to figure out how many units of insulin are needed.

We really should all be given honorary PHDs.

More carbs = more glucose = more insulin = more chance of effing it up. There are many factors contributing to how fast or slow those carbs get digested. And then more dictating how effectively the insulin you've injected is used. Effing it up becomes par for the course. That's where the law of small numbers comes in...

Less carbs = less glucose = less insulin = less chance of going either high or low AKA more stable blood glucose levels. And with this comes a more stable mood. No hangry "quick, stuff me full of sugar asap" lows. No foggy and lethargic highs.

By being in control and not letting it control me, it becomes my superpower. Every day, by eating the right foods, correctly timing my doses, monitoring my blood sugar levels, I quietly work to keep my type 1 diabetes under control. And that keeps me not just looking healthy on the outside, but being healthy on the inside. You would never know it's something that affects me unless you saw me pricking my finger, dialling up a sneaky injection or possibly caught a brief fist pump when I've seen a good number come up on my meter.

In the process of learning how to take care of myself, a whole world of knowledge opened up for me. I became obsessed with watching youtube videos on low carb nutrition. Went to conferences. Joined facebook groups. Created an instagram showing how I eat. Met a heap of like-minded people. Sharing my experiences was great, but eventually I felt it was important that I find a way to actively help others find a path towards their own health goals. I signed up for an online course (which I graduated in January) with the Primal Health Coaching Institute that would give me the tools I needed to become a health coach and provide much needed support to the many people out there who are struggling.

So thanks type 1 diabetes! Thanks dodgy pancreas that doesn't produce enough insulin to keep me alive! Oh, and thanks stroke that left me temporarily unable to move the right side of my body! Yep, stroke too. The bleeding kind, not a blockage. Aren't I lucky?! I'll tell you about that part of the story another time ;)



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